Friday, August 13, 2010

Second Protest At Mexican Consul In Chicago Over Bicentennial "El Grito" Ouster Of Mexican Civic Society

Iris Ramos, 7, holds "Consul Go Home" poster

(L-R): Evelia Rodríguez interviewed by Zonia Lopez from Nfoque Latino WJTI 1460 AM radio in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

(left): Yvette Anna Soto, protest organizer interviewed by Chicago Tribune reporter

Gerardo Colchado from Greenbay, Wisconsin joins the protest. Photos by H.N.G.

The Mexican Civic Society Board decides to have the Mexican Independence Parade on September 11 at Columbus Drive, despite Mexican Consul Arriaga's decision to exclude organization from officially participating in El Grito event

By H. Nelson Goodson
August 13, 2010

Chicago, IL - On Friday, for the second time a group composed of Latinos and members of the Mexican community marched and protested in front of the Mexican Consulate, 204 S. Ashland Ave. in Chicago. Yvette Anna Soto, the key organizer said, the group will continue to protest until the Mexican Civic Society of Illinois (MCS) is allowed to participate as Co-presenters of El Grito as Consul Manuel Rodríguez Arriaga had promised before last June.
The group is expected to protest in front of the Consulate every week until the day of El Grito, the next protest will be held on Friday, August 20, at 10:30 a.m., Soto confirmed.
Gerardo Colchado, 25, of Greenbay, Wisconsin happened to take his wife to get some legal documents at the Consulate, when he heard of the protest outside and decided to join in. The Consul should allow the MCS to participate, especially in a very important celebration as the Bicentennial, Colchado said. He grabbed a Mexican flag and stood in front of the Consulate as a protest to Arriaga's decision to exclude MCS from El Grito.
Other Mexican citizens, who were at the Consulate for services also joined the protest outside to send a strong message to Consul Arriaga that it's unfair and a discriminatory act to hand select who participates and not in the celebration, according to protesters.
Consul Arriaga has failed to meet with the protesters or even come out of the Consulate on August 3 and ask protesters why they were there protesting as required by Mexican law. An act by Arriaga that the protesters are not taking to lightly and alleged he has violated Mexican law and failed to work with the community at large.
Agustin Emilio Pradillo Cuevas, Social Communication Department Chief at the Mexican Consulate said, that last year the Mexican federal government suspended all funds for the bicentennial festivities for all Consulates. In Chicago, the Consulate formed a special commission from members of the community to organize and to help raise funds by seeking sponsorships for the Grito event. The Consulate is also involved in helping to acquire funds for the event and the funds will be deposited and managed by the Chicago Community Trust Fund. The Consulate will provide more information about the commission and event by early September. The commission could not be named or confirmed, if the Holiday Festive Committee (Comite Fiestas Patrias - CFP) was one of the same. Pradillo indicated they were different groups.
On late Thursday, Miguel Zuno, MCS Parade Chairman announced that the MCS Board decided to do their traditional Mexican Independence Parade on Columbus Drive on September 11, and the parade is scheduled to start at noon. Zuno said, the MCS had received an outpour of support from neighborhood businesses, corporations, the Hispanic and Mexican community in the Chicago area. For organizations, groups and corporations who would like to particpate and sponsor in this year's parade, they should contact, Zuno said. Deadline for parade registration to participate is September 3rd, according to MCS.
Evelia Rodríguez, MCS Media and Public Relations said, the Board decided to continue the parade this year after it was canceled, so we wouldn't lose our tradition in getting the city permit and being part of the Mexican Independence community celebration. In 2008 and 2009, the parade and El Grito were both done by MCS, Rodríguez said. 
In June, the MCS had canceled the parade and other activities in protest to Consul Arriaga's unexpected decision to exclude the 40-year-old non-profit organization from the Bicentennial Mexican Independence and El Grito celebration. El Grito is done after September 15 at midnight on September 16.
On September 16, 1810 is the day of the "Grito de Dolores" or Miguel Hidalgo's call to take up arms against the Spanish colonial government. The start of the Mexican Revolution is celebrated November 20, 1910, when Francisco "Pancho" Villa and Pascual Orozco led the first insurrectionist attack.
For the last three years the Mexican Consul had been reaching out to non-profits, museums, cultural arts institutes, universities and other entities, but failed to include a large portion of the Mexican community including MCS. MCS organizers say that they were part of the Bicenntennial Mexico's Independence celebration and Arriaga had included them, until early 2009 when they discovered Arriaga had excluded them from participating.
Within two consecuitive years, MCS had worked with the CFP before it was discovered they were left out of the Bicentennial planning and steering committee. The CFP committee was created in 2004 by the Mexican Consulate and today is controlled by Consul Arriaga.
Pradilla from the Consulate would not confirm, if CFP was also participating in the Bicentennial and would not identify the members of the commission spearheading El Grito event. He did mention they were members of various federations (organizations) in the Chicago area.
Arriaga has been in the center of controversy, since he arrived in Chicago. Especially, when organizations and members of the Mexican community have accused him of failing to work with Chicago Mexican community organizations. Arriaga would not comment on the current allegations and the Bicentennial controversy to exclude MCS from El Grito.
In 2008, 21 community organizations representing the Mexican community sent a letter to President Felipe Calderón complaining about Consul Arriaga, who took office in April 2007.
The complaint alleged Arriaga was arrogant, disputes, disrespected people, and ignored the needs of the Mexican community in Chicago. Arriaga lacked to understand his responsibilities that come with the job. They even wrote Calderón that Arriaga verbally attacks and offends leaders of the Mexican community based organizations looking to divide the community, reported El Diario Hoy from the Chicago Tribune.
Numerous members of the Institute for Mexicans Abroad (IME) even supported the allegations made by the 21 community organizations. IME members alleged Arriaga was not fullfilling his duties by working with the community and had neglected to attend community events in Wisconsin when invited.
Arriaga supposedly represents the Mexican government in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. Arriaga failed to comment or respond to the allegations made by the organizations in 2008.
Arriaga, President Calderón and the Mexican government has yet to comment concerning the current bicentennial community celebration exclusion of MCS.

Related article:

Update: Mexican Consul In Chicago Violated Law, Major Latino Community Protest Set For Friday

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